Featured Chime Projects

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

The restoration and enlargement of this, much the busiest, and the most famous chime in the U.S., was planned over many years, and was done in conjunction with a restoration of its home, McGraw Tower. Early in the tower project, the existing 17 Meneely & Company bells were sent to our foundry for tuning and refitting. An 18th Meneely bell, purchased earlier by the University to eventually fill in the omitted second semitone of the chime, was also brought to our foundry to be tuned and harmonized with the other bells. We cast three new bells for the chime, to special Meneely patterns: two were to replace two French bells of a different profile that had been added earlier, which were to be retired; and one was to fill an omitted semitone near the top of the range. The instrument was thus completed to its present size, 21 bells covering 1 3/4 octaves, omitting only the lowest semitone. Tuning work included adjusting the hum notes of the bells to be true octaves with the primes and nominals, and the bells were tuned to an equal-tempered scale. A new, hot galvanized steel bell frame was designed, providing a better arrangement of bells both mechanically and acoustically; and we built an entirely new playing action utilizing the radial principle, with stainless steel quadrants operating in stainless steel sealed ball bearings; new clappers and fittings were provided for all bells, and we built new 21-note playing and practice chimestands. As the installation in the tower could not be made by the time of Commencement in 1999, we designed a temporary framework which was built and erected on a heavy trailer by the Cornell carpenter shop from timbers salvaged from the old bell frame; this housed 12 of the bells, based on the original 1867 chime tenor (now bell number 5, F#3), and this was played from the old chimestand in the temporary installation. The temporary chime was set up on the West side of Sage Chapel, and played for commencement and alumni activities in June of 1999. The chime installation in McGraw Tower was finished in late September, 1999, and rededicated in early November of that year. (www.chimes.cornell.edu)

Photo by Robert Barker,
Cornell University Photography
Far Above Cayuga’s Waters...McGraw Tower, Cornell University
The 21 Bells of the Chime in our Foundry
The Practice Chimestand Under Construction
The Bells Ready to Travel Back Home
The New E4 350 lb. Bell
Going In
The New Chimestand --- Largest Traditional Chimestand Ever Made: 21 chiming levers/21 pedals